WordPress 4.9.6 is set to be released in the near future and it is set to be no small update. If WordPress 5.0 is hinging on the new website editor Gutenberg being the big statement, then 4.9.6 is for GDPR, and should be version 4.10 – that’s how much of a big deal it is.
Why does 4.9.6 matter?
first, a history lesson
Some years ago, this little company called Auttomatic dropped WordPress 3.7 “Basie”. It was then that WordPress introduced an update function where you didn’t have to babysit the thing – maintenance and security updates could be done automatically. The WordPress team contended that most websites weren’t being updated with security measures and patches when they were ready, and they wanted to fix that. It was a responsible move on behalf of WordPress, and because WordPress is the underpinning of almost 30% of the internet, it makes the world wide web safer for everyone. Minor issues have cropped up over the years, but this move was made for the better.
How do Versions work?
Basically, the third digit of the sequence is a minor update. When it changes, this automatically triggers an update to your website. You have to manually change from, say, 4.8 to 4.9, but it will update itself from 4.8.8 to 4.8.9
“A minor WordPress version is dictated by the third sequence. Version 3.9.1 is a minor release. So is 3.8.2. A minor release is intended for bugfixes and enhancements that do not add new deployed files and are at the discretion of the release lead with suggestions/input from component maintainers and committers.”
If you don’t know by now – and how can you now – the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) become enforceable on May 25th, 2018. This legal piece is meant address date protection and privacy for individuals inside the EU. The WordPress Team has made this all a part of the WordPress core – instead of a simple plug-in.
So, every website will be affected by this new regulations – although it shouldn’t. If you use WordPress locally, or in a development sandbox, or just don’t interact with users from Europe, and of course, if you don’t collect any data, you should not be affected by GDPR.
Because GDPR compliance is a ‘minor’ update, this will trigger an automatic update on every WordPress website. This could potentially break websites. Automatic updates were always intended for patches and maintenance, not new functionality. For that reason, if you can, we recommend you turn off automatic updates, until some reports come in.
To disable automatic core updates on your website, as per the WordPress Codex instructions, you must add this line in your wp-config.php file:
define( 'WP_AUTO_UPDATE_CORE', false );
95 other updates were made in WordPress 4.9.6, including:
- “Mine” has been added as a filter in the media library.
- When viewing a plugin in the admin, it will now tell you the minimum PHP version required.
- We’ve added new PHP polyfills for forwards-compatibility and proper variable validation.
- TinyMCE was updated to the latest version (4.7.11).